Magazine article Medical Economics

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Magazine article Medical Economics

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The danger of EHRs

"Using manual, paper-based processes that are more akin to Eisenhower's era than today's modern world, healthcare is the largest and most antiquated part of our economy," former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has stated in support of electronic health records. "[There is] irrefutable evidence and experience that information technology saves lives and saves money."

Not so! A July 2008 article in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that on 14 of 17 patient-visit quality indica- tors, there was no significant difference in performance between practices that used an EHR and those that did not.

Worse yet With EHRs, a 10-digitcode-guided bureaucrat would dictate "best treatment" standard care for nonstandard patients. As Microcosm author George Gilder wrote me: "Each patient is different making codes inoperable."

Howard Long, MD, MPH

Pleasanton, California

Editor's note: To learn more about EHR systems' problems with coding compliance, turn to page 18.

When you are the patient

I empathize with Dr. Richard Waltman, who recently shared his reflections on the experience of being a patient ["In sickness and in healthcare," From the Board, February 20, 2009].

As an internist I admit that a few years back I didn't know much about autism with regard to workup and treatment options. I remember how anxious my husband and I felt as we drove to attend our appointment with the developmental neurologist.

I was pregnant in my first trimester, and my son was a few months past his second birthday. We had noticed delays in his speech and changes in his behavior, being more isolated and not making eye contact

After meeting the team involved in the assessment of my son, we waited impatiently for the result The physician, who I still think is excellent in his field, came in and informed us what we were suspecting is true: My son has autism. …

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